Mortgagee property listings – a note of caution

I would like to bring your attention to the serious matter of adherence to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) guidelines as they relate to the description of mortgagee property listings on realestate.co.nz.

The fact is that within the 349 listings currently on the site which use the term mortgagee there are number that are not in fact properties subject to mortgagee auction or tender or as properties being sold on the instruction of the lender.

To quote a couple of examples (these are not being identified to protect the anonymity of the agent:

Mortgagee Auction ?
Not at all….. but our vendors will meet the market to ensure a sale on auction day!
Situated on an established easy care section with fantastic outdoor living, the home has spacious living, modern kitchen, 3 double bedrooms and 2 toilets.
Inspection essential to appreciate all that the property offers. – Excellent school zones and close to amenities.
This home will be sold!
Will you be the lucky new owner?

Location is the Greatest. Apartment is Excellent, the situation is unbelievable and the timing is right Now! You’ll be surprised what the Vendor will Sell for! Might as well call it a Mortgagee Sale! Why wait? Find out what the fuss is all about!

This practice of “seeding” listings with this keyword of “mortgagee” is clearly being done to attract attention, however as this article in the NZ Herald clearly shows the attention of the ASA may be the result.

The guidelines for us running the website are very clear from a legal perspective – we are a publisher and do not undertake to audit or review any content we receive from any of our customers for publication on the website, to do so would be impossible and impractical. However if any complaint is addressed to us regarding any content on the website we will immediately contact the office and agent concerned and request them to immediately amend the content or remove it.

I would encourage everyone in this industry to recognise that by abiding by the guidelines of the ASA and not misusing keywords that the whole industry will benefit from greater trust and credability as seen from the perspective of the public and regulatory authourities.

March 30 2009 05:26 pm | Online marketing

2 Responses to “Mortgagee property listings – a note of caution”

  1. Adam on 31 Mar 2009 at 10:10 am #

    Alister just out of interest is there a specific clause in the ASA that relates to mortgagee sales or are you referring to the act generally?
    I ask this because both your examples make very clear by the time you have read the the body text that they are not mortgagee sales. On this basis its no different than a reporter using a catchy headline and then explaining themselves in the body or a clever tvc. we see this all the time in advertising.
    Whilst i appreciate agents may be violating your terms of use for realestate.co.nz in the way which theve tagged or seeded their property – i dont think this is a ASA issue at all is it?

  2. Alistair Helm on 31 Mar 2009 at 10:19 am #

    Adam,

    Thanks for this question – there is no specific component of the ASA guidelines that deal with mortgagee listings.

    The ASA is an industry body which polices standards in the best interests of the advertising industry. They are not governed directly by any law – unlike the trades descriptions act or any consumer guarantees laws.

    The ASA is mindful of importance of ensuring the industry retains a self policing approach to truthful and accurate representation of advertising. There is a clear difference between newspaper headlines and adverts.

    I am not specifically saying that these listings breach the rules of the ASA, I merely want the industry to be mindful of what constitutes misleading or deceptive advertising as real estate has a high awareness and should be seen to uphold the principles of ethical and transparent advertising copy.

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